Since the earliest days of the United States of America, the idea that religion should be separate from the state has been a cornerstone of American society. Indeed, it is what allows true freedom of religion; that is, the freedom to practice any religion, or none at all, as we all as individuals see fit. Most of America's religious people understand the importance of this separation.
Or not. As Americans United for the Separation of Church and State report, the idea of religious freedom is under direct assault by Christian fundamentalists. That, in itself, might not be news to everyone, but the fundies seem to have new and strange bedfellows: the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). PBS will soon broadcast a program entitled, "The Wall of Separation," which basically seeks to deconstruct the idea that America's founding fathers envisioned a nation that kept religion out of government and government out of religion.
The program was produced by an outfit called Boulevard Pictures. The Boulevard website informs us that, "...what would surprise most Americans is the discovery that (the separation of church and state) is not what the Founding Fathers of our country intended when they established our nation and wrote the Constitution and Bill of Rights. They in fact had a radically different definition of establishment and the role of religion in state and federal governments than we do today. So radical, in fact, that some say the modern understanding of the role of religion in the public square is exactly the opposite of what the Founders intended."
The Americans United for the Separation of Church and State article identifies Brian Godawa, the writer and director of "The Wall of Separation," as quite the "interesting character." Per the article, "Godawa did movie reviews for a time for the Chalcedon Foundation's Web site. Those of you who follow religion and politics will recognize Chalcedon as the nerve center of Christian Reconstructionism, the most militant wing of the Religious Right. Godawa also was a featured speaker at the American Vision's '2006 Worldview Super Conference,' a Reconstructionist event." A quick peek at the Chalcedon website reveals a tremendous influence of one R. J. Rushdoony. Mr. Rushdoony greets visitors to Chalcedon's website with the following quote, "History has never been dominated by majorities, but only by dedicated minorities who stand unconditionally on their faith." There may be an element of truth to that statement, but it is also quite telling with regard to the true aims of the Chalcedon organization; specifically, that a dedicated minority of Christian fundamentalists can rewrite history to their liking. By extension, it is safe to assume that Godawa's intent in producing "The Wall of Separation" is cast in Chalcedon's mold.
For a shining example of what happens when religion and politics unite, one need look no further than Iran, which has an official state religion, Shi'a Islam.
We must not allow dedicated minorities rewrite the core of American tradition on the behalves of others. I don't begrudge Christian fundamentalists their right to practice their religion, but I do begrudge them for their efforts to turn America into a christianist version of Iran.